The United States has begun moving 1,600 armored vehicles to a Cold War-era storage depot in the Netherlands as part of President Obama’s continued strategy to “deter Russian aggression” in Europe.
The military vehicles are set to be stored at a multi-building warehouse complex in the southeastern Dutch village of Eygelshoven.
The armored force is expected to comprise M1 Abrams tanks, Bradley Fighting Vehicles, and M109 Paladin self-propelled howitzers.
The complex, opened in 1985, previously served as a base for American troops to train for a possible invasion of Europe by the Soviet Union.
The latest plan to build-up the number of military vehicles in Europe is part of a $3.4 billion program approved by Congress under the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). Additional storage sites are set for reopening in Belgium, Germany, and Poland.
The United States and NATO have placed blame for the military buildup in Europe squarely on Russian President Vladimir Putin and his supposed plans for expansion.
“When visiting the Baltic states, I experienced this for myself,” said General Tom Middendorp, chief of defense for the Netherlands. “Standing there, near the Russian border, you could feel the tense atmosphere.”
“NATO’s [systematic] efforts have been changing the very essence of the military security in the regions which are adjacent to the Russian border,” said Aleksandr Grushko, Russia’s Permanent Representative to NATO, during an interview in October in response to NATO exercises in Montenegro.
Ongoing steps by NATO to buildup forces in Eastern Europe are “some sort of project that not only does not correspond to the common European security interests, but goes against them,” he added.
While the storage facility in the Netherlands does not lie near the Russian border, the United States and Poland recently announced the accelerated deployment of the 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team to the Polish city of Zagan; in addition, a new brigade will be deployed to the Polish city of Orzysz, near the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad.
The deployment, announced following a meeting between Polish Defense Minister Antoni Macierewicz and Lieutenant General Ben Hodges, the commander of U.S. Army Europe, comes as the Obama administration and NATO rush to move additional troops into Europe prior to Donald Trump’s inauguration.
Trump has made no secret of his hope to improve relations with Russia.